One side is significantly reduced due to injury and national team call up. The other is the worst team in the West, but no longer a complete pushover. Wednesday night's 7 PM match is in the middle of a packed late August/early September that sees 3 matches in 8 days. Chivas USA is also on short rest and flew to the Seattle area immediately following their draw against Vancouver.
Joining us for Three Questions during this third round in 2013 is Matthew from The Goat Parade.
SaH: My goodness, Erick Torres. That's not a question. But say something about him?
tGP: I don't know the whole backstory other then he is one of eight players loaned to Chivas USA from CD Guadalajara. He has about 2-3 years experience playing for the Mexican U-20 team and in Liga MX. His stats and his playing time aren't really all that eye popping. He started a few games but was frequently pulled pretty early in the second half.
Certainly nothing there seemed to foretell the immediate success he would have in MLS. It would be foolhardy to assume his success can be attributed to MLS being a lesser league. Chivas USA has seven other CD Guadalajara players on our roster, only one other of which--Edgar Mejía--makes the Castrol Index Top 200.
Rather I think it's just the move to Carson has been the missing jigsaw piece that's fallen into place.
Now that the Portland Timbers have purchased Diego Valeri's contract, Erick Torres is the only DP on loan at an MLS club. Meaning it's virtually impossible that he'll remain with Chivas USA once the seasons up
He's charismatic, he's fun. He does the robot for crying out loud. That's my only dance move so I'm definitely grateful for his bringing it back
I have no clue if his success stateside will follow him south of the border. But man, while he's been here, it's been a ride.
From my point of view, Erick Torres has made Chivas USA an exciting team ON THE FIELD, instead of .. well, you know.
SaH: Are the defensive issues about players available, tactical structure or what?
tGP: The players available and tactics were certainly ...um, not helpful, when Chivas embarked on their MLS single season record winless streak hit 14. Then we got to play Toronto FC. Not only did that game break the streak but it marked the Chivas debuts of Erick Torres and US international defender Carlos Bocanegra.
I know Seattle has gotten a lot of "attention" as to how they obtained Clint Dempsey, but I tend to think Chivas USA acquisition of Bocanegra via the allocation to be far more outrageous. Chivas traded Portland the #2 spot in the Allocation Order leaving the Goats in the late teens. Yet we got our guy. Seattle only leapfrogged two teams. We jumped over more than half the league.
So getting Boca helped upgrade the defense substantially. Jose Luis Real replaced Chelis and scrapped the three man backline in favor of the standard/default/de facto four man backline.
With that change, Real also brought in a very tight, pressing almost swarming defense. And it works great! For about forty-five minutes and then maybe another fifteen minutes after the halftime break. But once teams get to the 80th minute, it's just like shooting fish at those people at Pike Place Market.
You don't have to be a rocket surgeon to know there's a downside to running your players all over the field for the full contest. The constant running and tracking, it's just unsustainable over the course of a 90 minute match.
Look no further than Sunday's match against the Vancouver Whitecaps. In the first 45 minutes, Chivas had 13 tackles, 11 interceptions, and 41 recoveries.
At the end of the game, Chivas has 19 tackles, 12 interceptions, and 57 recoveries.
Meanwhile, the clearances--i.e. kicking the ball away really, really hard and in no real general direction other than away from your goal--spiked from 17 at the half to 42 at full time.
Perhaps in future games Real will actually use all three of his substitutions and maybe not wait until the 86th minute to do so.
SaH: Is the Chivas USA attack too dependent on the long ball?
tGP: Five or six games ago, that would be an unequivocal "yes". However Real made the right decision to do away with putting Torres alone on an island up front. Julio Morales has paired well with Torres and almost scored a fantastic bicycle kick of his own against the New York Red Bulls if not for an incredible save by Luis Robles.
Absolutely you'll see the team taking shots downfield. But in the last few games, in the first half at leas, you'll really see a team trying to bring pace up the wings, establish posession around the 18-yard box and then try to feed the ball to the a Chevis player who slips past his marker.
If you're defenders mark our players really well and aren't easily distracted by the team's shiny necklesses, then Chivas may need to rethink their strategy.
Seriously though, I would say that this Chivas USA side is actually very suspectible *to* the long ball. Watch the first highlights from the recent match against New York. If not for Dan Kennedy, that game could have been a lobsided Red Bulls victory.
Significant Injuries (suspension, injury, call up): Well Carlos Bocanegra remains on the MLS Injury Report as being out. He has been listed as out for at least the last three matches. He's played the full 90 minutes in each game. Just saying. Midfielder Carlos Borja is on the verge of suspension due to yellow card accumulation.
Projected Lineup: Kennedy, Delgado, Burling, de Luna, Soto, Farfan, Borja, Avila, de la Fuente, Torres, Bowen
tGP: When Obafemi Martins returns from injury what sort of formation do you think Sigi will throw out there? For example, a 4-4-2 Diamond with Eddie Johnson and Martins up top with Dempsey playing behind them? Where does that leave Lamar Neagle?
SaH: We think, and that's all we can do is guess since the three headed hydra is yet to see the field together, that Dempsey will play centrally in a pseudo-CAM role where he is supposed to shoot a lot. Neagle, Evans and someday Zakuani will compete to start on the left side. Rosales probably continues to start as often as he's healthy with Alonso as a pure defensive mid again. It's a shape that will look like a diamond on TV graphics, but it won't play like a diamond. It will almost play like a 5-0-5. Linking through the midfield is going to be quite important and how the team does that will determine whether or not this star studded attack actually scores goals.
tGP: Tell me about the various Seattle SGs. How many are there and what, if any, overlap exists between the various groups?
SaH: I'll probably get grief for even trying this.
Emerald City Supporters (ECS) - they have a bunch of subgroups, but all together they are the largest group in this area by far. They are responsible for the massive tifo that is becoming a signature feature in Seattle matches, almost every chant that comes across on TV (some times a call & repeat starts else where) and the March to the Match. They stand in the Brougham End (south end). The three sections of theirs in the 100 level are General Admission. ECS plans away travel for every match.
Gorilla FC (GFC) - this group focuses on channeling their passion for soccer into accomplishing social good raising money for various charities around the Sound. They stand just to the left of ECS (as you look from center circle to the goal) and generally have some two-poles in their area. Their seats are not General Admission. GFC plan away travel for Cascadia matches and usually just one or two others a year.
North End Faithful (NEF) - this group is based in the North End (no surprise I hope). Many of the rail banners and signs along the Hawk's Nest are from members of their group. They do tifo for the largest of matches.
EastSide Supporters (ESS) - originally starting as a group that watched away matches together in the Eastern suburbs they are starting to coalesce in the Hawk's Nest (on the East Side of course). They are the youngest of the official groups. They have some rail banners and work with NEF on tifo at times.
tGP: There's a mistaken belief that all MLS has to do is roll a ball out in Seattle and 40,000 people show up. Do you ever feel that MLS takes the Seattle market for granted? An example being the Cascadia CupTM brou-haha.
SaH: It's take quite a bit to get to this point. At launch the team only thought they would get about 12,000 season tickets. Over the past five years that number has grown to 32,000 with about 4,000 or so partials (these are estimates). They've made some mistakes (three mediocre friendlies were replaced by one major friendly and this year there was actually no friendly), but continue to learn how to deal with a fanbase that is large, diverse and consistently demanding of more participation. For the uber-fan and supporter the Cascadia Cup dispute was a big deal, but that may only be 20% of fanbase. At some level as long as the team is slightly above average the club people will continue to turn out. For example, the record setting attendance against the Timbers was accompanied by the a slightly above average local TV rating.
Significant Absences: Dempsey, Johnson (USMNT) - Evans, Joseph, Zakuani (injured) - Gonzalez (suspended) | Obafemi Martins and Djimi Traore may be back for this match, but that is still in question. Blair Gavin may be at full fitness now.
Projected Lineup: Gspurning; Burch, Traore, Ianni, Yedlin; Alonso; Neagle, Carrasco, Rosales; Zavaleta, Martins - I really don't have a clue as to the LM and forwards.